Developments in Conference Technology

Phil Benson explores the latest developments in conference technology.

The MICE (meetings, incentive, conferences and exhibitions) sector has long been an important revenue stream for the UK hotel industry. During the recent tough economic climate, some businesses have suffered from expected conference bookings being cancelled or just not materialising.

However, as companies begin to emerge from some of their financial constraints, it is hoped that corporate accountants will once again look to create a conference budget and boost the growth, albeit a slow one, that the hotel industry continues to see.

As conference, training or meetings budgets increase, it is vital for hoteliers to be in a position to offer customers exactly what they want and having the latest technology installed in their hotels will only help them secure much needed business.

Yet despite the expected improvement to conference budgets, accountants will still be keen to spend wisely when bringing together large groups of people, potentially from all over the world. Advancements in business technology have come along way over the last twenty-years and people’s lives are busier and more hectic than ever before, so an alternative to costly face-to-face meetings is being sought.

Conference Technology: New Demands

Provisions for hotel meetings are no longer simply choosing which tea and coffee to provide. Hotels now have to cater for video conferencing, have wireless internet connections, be able to offer LCD projectors and provide mini sound systems.

The most important technology innovation for conferences and meetings has been the introduction of video conferencing to the market. It has been a revolution for the business community, allowing companies to save time and money by reducing the travel commitments of their employees and clients.

The potential for hotels to capitalise on the needs of companies wanting to reduce costs is vast and investment in video conferencing technology could pave the way for further developments in improving existing technologies with the potential for 3D projections to be introduced in the pipeline.

Enter the iPad

Another revolution to effect companies and in turn the hotel industry was the launch of the iPad. Now used universally, the device has redefined how hotel guests use technology and how they will do in the future. The use of the iPad has placed immense demands on hotel Wi-Fi systems and there employment is being seen more at conferences. Planners will be choosing venues based on Wi-Fi capability and will expect to receive the same service and bandwidth that they receive in their own offices.

Any negativity about a slow wireless service will prevent hotels from securing important MICE business. Hoteliers must react to the trend to use iPads, not only for conference purposes, but also as a product that is used for a wider range of reasons by guests.

Technology is a fast moving beast, with new products hitting the market on a weekly basis, which are then being improved upon within months. Hotel customers remain demanding and they will ultimately determine technology needs. It is up to hoteliers to respond to these needs and keep up with the requirements that their new and existing customers have to stay competitive in the fierce MICE market.

By Phil Benson

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